I have had 3 pivotal moments so far on my atheist life path. The first was about 12 years ago, the second about 4 months ago, the third just today.
First my religious background- I was raised in the Lutheran Church: church every Sunday, baptized as a baby, first communion, confirmation, Sunday School during the school year and 1 week of Bible School during the summer. During junior high (approx. age 12) I had taken to reading my bible every night before bed and my biggest wish was to get a leather-bound bible with my name engraved on it.
Born Again Take 1- When I was approximately 13, I went to Bible Camp (nothing like Jesus Camp) where I was told by a counselor, while holding his hands 2 feet apart, that he saw me on his left hand and the Lord on his right hand. Then he brought them together and said that this is where I should be. So we met 15 minutes before curfew up in the chapel and he had one of those Chick tracts with him. I was so flattered that he was spending time with just me, I mean he was a hunky college guy after all, what 13 year old nerd wouldn't be thrilled??? So, we read through the little blue pamphlet and got to the prayer part... so I did it. I kept waiting for the fireworks or the divine revelation or something and nothing happened. He kept looking at me expectantly so I said something appropriate....But I was completely horrified that nothing had changed.
Born Again Take 2- The second time was when I was roughly 16 and at a Youth for Christ weekend retreat. I got to meet one of the celebrity singers there and he offered to pray with me. So, roughly the same thing happened, got together really late just him and me, read the tract, said the prayer, nothing happened...again.... What was the matter with me?
My first pivotol moment was when I was 22. I had struggled off and on with my faith up until that point, still wanting to believe, but really just going through the motions. I really thought there was something wrong with me. Dennis Miller described it best, "I'm genetically incapable of having a charismatic experience."
It was after reading the Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes, which details a highly plausible theory on how and why gods came about, that I reluctantly come to the conclusion that there just wasn't a god. However, the guilt remained behind. I felt bad that I no longer believed in god. I also was furious that the churches were perpetuating such a lie.
My second pivotol moment came after 10 years of disbelief, about 4 months ago, I stumbled across EvilBible.com. Strangely enough, reading through this website eradicated all guilt that I had for not believing.
Now, not only DON'T I believe in god, I wouldn't WANT the christian god to exist. Evil. Murderous. Vindicitive. Petty.
How I got through Sunday School without realizing that any being capable of murdering the first born of an entire nation on a WHIM was an evil sociopath/psychopath I'll never know. You just weren't supposed to question god.
The third pivotol moment happened about 20 minutes ago while I was reading up on and researching morality. I have finally realized why my two attempts at becoming born-again did not take.
This is the passage I was reading from Atheism: The Case Against God by George H. Smith who is quoting C.S. Lewis in this passage:
Christ takes it for granted that men are bad. Until we really feel this assumption of His to be true, though we are part of the world He came to save, we are not part of the audience to whom His words are addressed...
When coupled with this passage from the previous page:
A man motivated by guilt, however, is a man with a broken spirit; he will obey the rules without question. A guilt-ridden man is the perfect subject for religious morality.
I never felt it. I never truly believed I was a bad person. Never did they convince me that I was a sinner from birth, that I was incapable of being a good person on my own, that I deserve to be burned in hell for all eternity.
After all these years I finally get it.
I cannot become a born again christian because I do not believe in original sin. I do not beleive that I am a bad person without religion. I do not believe anyone deserves an eternity in torment.
My spirit is unbroken.
My spirit is unbroken!!!!